UK

All historic gay sex convictions to be pardoned under new scheme: ‘The UK did so much wrong’

Nola Ojomu January 4, 2022
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Priti Patel has announced that all historic gay sex convictions to be pardoned under new scheme

Britain's home secretary Priti Patel. (Oli Scarff/Getty)

Gay and bisexual men previously convicted under UK’s historical anti-gay laws can now have charges such as solicitation pardoned due to a newly expanded scheme.

The government’s agreement to amend the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will help expunge the records of people who were convicted of crimes relating to homosexual activity, due to previous laws that criminalised consensual gay sex.

Tory home secretary Priti Patel said: “It is only right that where offences have been abolished, convictions for consensual activity between same-sex partners should be disregarded too.

“I hope that expanding the pardons and disregards scheme will go some way to righting the wrongs of the past and to reassuring members of the LGBT+ community that Britain is one of the safest places in the world to call home.”

Starting in 2012, people in England and Wales have been able to apply to have historical same-sex sexual cautions and convictions disregarded.

Then in 2017, Turing’s Law was passed โ€“ named after the wartime codebreaker Alan Turing who was convicted of gross indecency for homosexual acts in 1952.

It granted posthumous pardons toย others who were convicted of sexual acts that are no longer deemed criminal.

However, campaigners argued the crimes covered by the scheme were too narrow as the law only covered nine former offences included on a specified list, with a large focus on the repealed offences of buggery and gross indecency between men.

After sustained pressure from LGBT+ campaigners, an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will broaden the criteria to include any repealed or abolished civilian or military offence imposed on someone purely for, or due to, consensual homosexual activity.

Conditions will still need to be met in order for a disregard and pardon to be granted, including that the sexual activity must not constitute an offence today and anyone else involved must have been aged 16 or over.

The expansion means many more people will be eligible to have convictions wiped from their records and an automatic pardon given.

The amendment will also enable those who have died prior to the amendment coming into force, and within a year after the amendment comes into force, to be posthumously pardoned.

Politician and Stonewall founder Lord Michael Cashman celebrated the news on Twitter as he wrote: “Breaking news: 6 years work by Lord Lexden, Prof Paul Johnson of Leeds, & me to widen pardons & disregards for historical homosexual convictions to become law.

“UK did so much wrong; reputations & lives can finally be uplifted. So much more to do. Enormous thnx to @SusanBaroness”.

In a joint statement with Lord Lexden and Prof Paul Johnson, he added: “Parliament has a duty to wipe away the terrible stains which they placed, quite wrongly, on the reputations of countless gay people over centuries.”

More: gay sex, Lord Michael Cashman, Priti Patel, Turin's Law

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